Manchester, N.H. - David Irving, the English-speaking world's most famous and infamous Holocaust denier, reportedly visited New Hampshire's Queen City on July 14, 2014. The location of the appearance by the once-respectable, now reviled war historian was denied to even buyers of tickets to the event. After vetting ticket buyers, the paranoid Irving decides whether to admit the person to his lecture, or refund their money. If you're "in", he will give you the location of his appearance and he swears the patron to secrecy. He typically books rooms under his middle two names, John Cawdell. He is wary of admitting journalists.
Irving's 2014 tour of the United States is being billed on his personal website as his last, and while the cities he appears in are known, all locations in which he will give his lectures are strictly secret. According to a 2013 article in London's Independent, the broadsheet published in Irving's native England, he is not above misdirecting at ticket buyer to a false location if he thinks they are hostile to him.
The 76-year-old pariah is banned from traveling to Canada and Austria, countries that don't have the stringent free speech provisions guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, countries in which Holocaust denial is considered "hate speech" and is thus proscribed. Austria banned Irving because of his association with neo-Nazis.
Irving claims that he likely will never be allowed back into the United States.
He is traveling in The States on a 10-year visa that expires this year. Irving believes that it is unlikely that the U.S. government will issue him another visa, so he likely is bidding "Arbschied" to America, the German form of goodbye that implies goodbye forever. Of course, he blames the Jews, and their imagined control over this country, for his imagined future banning.
Death Camp Tours
This is a man who, having been stripped of all credibility as a reputable historian, helps support himself giving tours of Nazi death camps (with the exception of Auschwitz, which he denies was a death camp and claims is over-hyped by Jews). This is an historian who repeatedly has denied the incontrovertible evidence that the Nazis gassed Jews as part of the "Final Solution". (Apparently, the gas-proof doors found in the wreckage of death camps sites were merely the doors of aerial bombing evacuation shelters for German military personnel, who feared the Allies would gas them in a replay or World War One. Of course, not even Hitler used poison gas on the battlefield during the Second World War, making this "explanation" particularly ridiculous.)
During a 2010 tour of Polish death camps, in which he charged 1,500 pounds sterling a person for the privilege of being exposed to his cock-eyed view of World War Two, Irving claimed that Adolf Hitler was "a great man, one of the greatest Europeans for centuries."
He also said that the dreaded Gestapo "were fabulous policemen. They sent 300,000 to Auschwitz and 800,000 to Treblinka," according to an Italian newspaper.
In the year 2000, David Irving lost a suit in England that he brought against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, for allegedly libeling him in her book Denying the Holocaust. Lipstadt had labeled Irving a Holocaust denial and an anti-Semite.
Irving's case wasn't helped by such statements, as the one he made in 1991, in which he called the Holocaust "a major fraud" and contended that, "There were no gas chambers. They were fakes and frauds."
In his opinion, the judge hearing the suit upheld the validity of evidence showing that Irving's denials of specific events such as the existence of death camp gas chambers were spurious. The judge also declared that Lipstadt's allegation "that Irving is a racist is also established."
The judgement was damning to Irving. The judge wrote, "Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favourable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism...."
He lost an appeal and was forced to pay the full costs of the trial for both sides, which bankrupted him.
Before losing this libel case, David Irving maintained a waning reputation as a respected historian, though not by academic historians. His books on World War Two were best-sellers, but were full of errors; his claim to prominence came from his ability to dig up primary documentation on the war that proved invaluable to other historians.
Irving was instrumental in debunking the much ballyhooed the "Hitler Diaries", which indeed, turned out to be fake.
Irving was often criticized, before it was irrefutably proven that he was a Holocaust denier (his anti-Semitism since losing the libel case has become rampant and unabashed as he no longer needs to hold it in check), that his narratives were a little too "pro-German", i.e., they were too sympathetic to the Nazis and Der Führer himself.
The Fire Bombing of Dresden
David Irving established himself as an histrorian with the 1963 book The Destruction of Dresden, which revealed the Allied fire bombing of Dresden, the fabled "Jewel Box" of Germany. The event, which many considered to lack strategic justification, was little known in the West as information about the fire-bombing was classified. Irving at the time claimed caused more deaths than the Hiroshima atomic bombing, between 100,000 and 250,000. (The actual number of casualties was between 22,700 and 25,000.)
It is important to note that one of the taproots of British appeasement in the 1930s was the fear of aerial bombardment. This fear had a crippling effect on many British politicians, who came to dread the German Luftwaffe that Hermann Göring triumphantly displayed to the world in the late 1930s. The terror bombing of Guernica by Nazi dive bombers during the Spanish Civil War made a deep and lasting impact in England.
The bombing of civilians was considered a war crime in the 1930s, and after The Blitz -- a reign of terror from above that was as awful as the appeasers had believed aerial warfare would be -- the United Kingdom answered Nazi Germany in kind, bombing civilian as well as military targets. The bombing of civilians was still so controversial after the War, that the head of Bomber Command, Arthur "Bomber" Harris, was the sole top commander of the victorious British military forces that was denied a peerage in honor of his wartime service.
In 1953, Bomber Harris was made a baronet, which was a hereditary honor that entitled Harris to be called "Sir Arthur", but it was not a peerage. (Bernard Montgomery, in contrast, was made a Viscount, the fourth-highest rank in the five-rank peerage system, and Field Marshal Harold Alexander was eventually made an earl, the third-highest rank, after originally being made a viscount.) In addition, no statue of Harris was raised before the Ministry of Defence building in London, due the controversy surrounding his role in what many considered a war crime, albeit, a necessary one. A statue of him was finally put up outside the Royal Air Force Church in 1992, nearly a half century after the end of the war.
In the context of the British ambivalence if not revulsion against the aerial bombing of civilian populations, Irving's book was a sensation. American novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who survived the fire-bombing of Dresden as prisoner of war, used Irving's book to help research his 1969 masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five.
In Slaughterhouse-Five , the anti-hero of the novel, Billy Pilgrim, shares a hospital room with the official historian of the United States Air Force. The historian's wife brings him a copy of Irving's book, which the historian denounces for being too sympathetic to the Germans.
And that was the rap on Irving, until he finally went off the deep end after his libel trial.
Too sympathetic to the Germans. Little did his critics of the time know he was pro-Nazi.
David Irving next kicked the hornet's nest when he claimed that Winston Churchill, Britain's revered war-time prime minister, engineered the assassination of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the premier of Poland's government-in-exile, in his 1967 book Accident: The Death of General Sikorski. In 1943, Sikorski died in an airplane crash after landing in Gibraltar. Sikorski was being sent on a tour of Polish troops in the Middle East, and his plane crashed into the Mediterranean right after taking off.
Irving believed Sikorski, an enemy of Soviet generalissimo Josef Stalin, was assassinated on the order of Churchill. In reality, Churchill was wary of Stalin and planned on using Sikorski as an ally after the European war, which began in September 1939 with the Nazi invasion of Sikorski's homeland. The Nazis were joined in their Polish invasion by Uncle Joe's Red Army later that month.
Britain had gone to war in Europe to guarantee Poland's integrity, and there was little reason for Churchill to murder someone he needed as an ally to protect Poland from the USSR. There is no forensic evidence that the airplane crash was anything but an error, though there are reports that Soviet agents were on the airfield in Gibraltar at the time of Sikorski's landing.
All in all, Irving's thesis was absurd, but it influenced the controversial play Soldiers by German dramatist Rolf Hochhuth, who made the same accusation against Churchill.
The game Irving and Hochhuth were playing was one of moral equivalency, that the Allied bombing of Dresden was equivalent to Nazi atrocities, and that Churchill was as duplicitous -- and murderous -- as Hitler. This is a thesis no serious person, except an ideologue, would entertain. And gradually, Irving was revealed as an ideologue, one of a proto-fascist, anti-Semitic bent.
By the late 1970s, David Irving established a reputation as a "revisionist historian". Hitler's War, his two-volume 1977 biography of Der Führer , was immediately followed by a biography of Field Marshal Irwin Rommel, a "good German" who many historians believe was sympathetic to the conspirators who attempted to assassinate Hitler in the July 20, 1944 attempted coup. Irving denounced the anti-Hitler conspirators as cowards and traitors, and blamed them for misleading Rommel, who committed suicide after the revelation of his role in the plot.
At this time, academic historians had had enough with Irving, who was accused of making countless errors and giving too much credence to Hitler's own statements of his intentions during World War Two. Irving would attempt to exonerate Hitler from having any role in the Holocaust, claiming that this absolute dictator had no idea what was going on -- the mass extermination of millions of Jews -- in the country and conquered empire he ruled with a totalitarian hand. It beggared belief.
In the early 1980s, he published a book about the failed Hungarian revolution of 1956, Uprising! The book was controversial and brought charges of anti-Semitism as he claimed the Hungarian patriots were motivated by anti-Semitism, as the Hungarian communist party was controlled by Jews. (Ironically, there were many post-World War Two purges of Jewish communist party members in such countries as Czechoslovakia, as Stalin descended into anti-Semitism in his dotage and the apparatchiks of the satellite countries attempted to please Koba the Dread.)
By the late 1980s, David Irving had moved from a historian sympathetic to Nazis to open Holocaust denial. He began hobnobbing openly with neo-Nazis and fascists in Germany.
The libel trial led to a reexamination of David Irving as an historian, and the results were not pretty. Apart from the pro-Nazi bias, the errors and distortions -- the unconscionable misinterpretations of history -- could no longer be denied. Shunned by reputable publishing houses, his back list of once best-selling histories allowed to go out-of-print by his former publishers, Irving took to self-publishing and, disastrously, to the Internet. On the Internet, he increasingly became brazen in his idolatry of Hitler and the Nazis, and open about his anti-Semitism.
A Holocaust denial organization that Irving became associated with, the Institute for Historical Review, once ran a piece "explaining" the anti-Semitism of Third Reich Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels, one of the most rancid of the Nazis, as being rooted in that old bugaboo, "Jewish control" of the post-World War One, Weimar-era Berlin media, including the theater. The failure of the young Goebbels as a playwright was the fault of the Jews, of course, and was the root of his anti-Semitism.
Irving blames the wreck of his own career on a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and claims that the Jews control America, which is why this likely will be his last tour of The States. He mirrors the very people he reveres, lashing out with irrational hatred for his own short-comings and failures.
One could only hope that before he shuffles off his mortal coil, he can meet someone akin to Shakespeare's Cassius from Julius Caesar, perhaps the shade of Goebbels himself, humbled after undergoing the tortures of a literal Hell for the past near-70 years.
What would this Cassius-like shade tell Irving, from the hard-earned wisdom that comes from the fruits of his Faust Bargain with the Devil?
"The fault, dear David is not in those we scapegoat, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Something tells me such an epiphany eluded Mr. Irving, and the half-dozen or two or three fellow haters who attended his lecture in Manchester. Hopefully, the Queen City can bid "Arbschied" to this sad and pathetic man one and for all, and forever.